Child rights body urges Dominica to end corporal punishment
Stabroek News
June 10, 2004

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The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has recommended that Dominica remove all legal provisions that allow corporal punishment for children and explicitly prohibit such punishment by law.

This is among the conclusions and recommendations on the situation of children in a number of countries, including the island of Dominica, coming out of the final report adopted by the Committee's 18 experts at the 36th session of the CRC from May 17 - June 4.

According to a release from the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean Area, the CRC in this session also considered reports on efforts to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child from El Salvador, Panama, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Liberia, Myanmar, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and France.

The CRC recommended that the State party remove all provisions from laws allowing corporal punishment and explicitly prohibit punishment by law in the family, schools and other institutions; continue constructive dialogue with political leaders and the judiciary with the aim of abolishing corporal punishment; strengthen public education campaigns among community leaders, school administrators and parents about negative consequences of corporal punishment of children; and undertake studies on domestic violence, ill-treatment and abuse of children, including sexual abuse within the family so as to adopt effective policies and programmes to combat all forms of abuse.

The Commission was appreciative of the amendment of the Education Act in Dominica to provide for early childhood education from 0 - 5 years; the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act that contains specific provisions covering various forms of violence against children; the Maintenance Act amended in 2001 to provide access to unwed fathers and increase the weekly maintenance fee by 50 percent; the Social Security Miscellaneous Amendment regulation through which maternity grants were increased by 100%, retroactive from 1996; and the ratification of the optional protocols to the Convention.

Dominica was also requested to increase efforts to ensure existing laws were implemented guaranteeing non-discrimination and compliance with Article 2 of the Convention, and to adopt a proactive and comprehensive strategy to eliminate discrimination on any grounds and against all vulnerable groups.

It was also recommended, the release said further, that the State party continue efforts to combat discrimination against children with disabilities and to promote their participation in all aspects of social and cultural life; and also to formulate a strategy to include appropriate teacher training to ensure all children with disabilities had access to education and, wherever possible, were integrated into the mainstream education system.

In addition, the State party was recommended to effectively reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies by making health education, including sex education, a part of the school curriculum, and strengthening the information campaign on the use of contraceptives.

They were asked also to address the rise in alcohol consumption by adolescents, and to increase the availability and accessibility of counselling and support services, in particular for Carib Indian children.

The CRC recommended that the State Party strengthen its efforts to improve the enjoyment of the rights of Carib Indian children, in particular by effective measures to reduce poverty in the Carib Indian territory.